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Iran completes new centrifuge facility to boost nuclear production

Iran's cabinet members, President Hassan Rouhani and Ali Akbar Salehi, during a meeting. (Hamed Malekpour/Tasnim News Agency)
September 10, 2018

Iran’s nuclear efforts appear to be continuing full-steam despite sanctions imposed by the United States.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announced the completion of a new facility designed to produce advanced centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site, according to a Reuters report on Sunday.

Salehi first announced the facility plans in June, saying the project would be completed in a month. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the order as part of a larger effort to increase Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity in the event of a dissolution of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

“(Ayatollah Khamenei) had ordered us to set up and complete a very advanced hall for the construction of modern centrifuges, and this hall has now been fully equipped and set up,” Salehi told the IRNA news agency on Sunday.

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A large-scale level of uranium enrichment is necessary for nuclear weapons production. In July, a report revealed that Iran had doubled its uranium reserves to 950 tons, up from 400 tons, in just three years.

“A third step (in reaction to the U.S. withdrawal) might be to suspend some of the limitations within the nuclear agreement, for example on the volume and level of enrichment,” Salehi said. “And the final scenario can be a complete exit from the nuclear accord, which I hope will never happen, with the help of (remaining signatories), because everyone would suffer,” he added.

Following the May announcement of President Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, Iran has made it clear that their nuclear program would increase as a result, and an even larger effort would scale up their activities if the remaining world powers left the deal.

“We will not return to previous levels if our counterparts leave the [nuclear deal], but will instead reach even more advanced levels,” Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said last week. “We are at a considerably more advanced status than when we signed the deal. The country is moving ahead in nuclear activities at a favorable pace,” he added.

Iran remains angered over President Trump’s actions. Khamenei noted that he would refuse any future negotiations with the U.S. since he now views the U.S. as untrustworthy for leaving the nuclear agreement.

Salehi accused President Trump of attempting to “break the spirit of Iran” and erase the agreements made by former President Obama.

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“He has decided to sabotage the US relationship with Cuba, and hurt the Climate Deal,” said Salehi, according to YNet News. “Trump has always believed that the nuclear accord was bad for the US and its allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Iran is reportedly considering ending the agreement themselves if they find it to no longer serve their national interests.